avalanche awareness

Avalanche Awareness Course

The Avalanche Awareness Course is a New Zealand Mountain Safety Council (MSC)  accredited course.

The Avalanche Awareness course is for skiers, snowboarders, climbers and all backcountry travellers. 

The focus of the course is to give backcountry travellers the foundation skills and knowledge to make safe decisions when travelling in avalanche terrain and what to do if someone in your party is caught in an avalanche.

Your instructor Mike Madden is a highly experienced mountain and ski guide having spent the last decade mountain and ski guiding in New Zealand and around the world. Mike works as an avalanche forecaster, senior guide, and lead guide for Harris Mountains heli-skiing in Queenstown as well as the Chief Guide for Queenstown Mountain Guides. Mike will share with you his personal real life experience in decision making, avalanche forecasting, and avalanche rescue.

The avalanche awareness course is held over one 3 hour evening session and then followed by a full day on a ski field. Prior to the course you need to complete the Online Avalanche Theory Course and QUIZ. This is a requirement for the field day and will help you get the most out of the course.

Avalanche Awareness Course skills syllabus

  • Introduction to the avalanche phenomenon - snowpack layering, triggers, avalanche types, avalanche sizes.
  • Avalanche terrain - slope angles, aspects, altitude/elevation, trigger points, terrain traps, avalanche terrain exposure scale
  • Conditions - Identifying signs of snow instability
  • Decision making
  • Safe travel techniques
  • Route finding in avalanche terrain
  • Rescue - Avalanche Transceivers, probing, shovelling technique

Other related trips

2 Day Helicopter Ski Touring Camp

7 Day Ski Mountaineering Camp

Sample Itinerary

Evening Lecture

Meet at 7.30pm at the Queenstown Mountain Guides Office for a 3 hour lecture and slide show on the avalanche phenomenon.

Field day

Meet at ski area at 9am. Full day in the field. The field day will finish at 4.30 pm


Map 2014

3 - 8

Map 2014

1.5 days



Map 2014



2016 avalanche awareness dates:

AA # 1 June 26th - 27th

AA# Girls (All Girls Course) 1st -2nd July

AA # 2 July 10th - 11th

AA # 3 July 31st - Aug 1st

AA # 4 August 19th - 20th

On demand late August & September (minimum 4 pax)

Experience Required

Whats Included

The price of the program includes

  • Guide fees
  • Group equipment
  • Department of Conservation concession fees

The price of the program excludes

  • Personal equipment & clothing
  • Skis, snowboard, or snow shoes
  • Lift access fees if applicable
  • Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe (hire available for $20)